There are a number of ways of contracting Hepatitis C, or HCV, as it is called. HCV is the abbreviation for Hepatitis C Virus. It is our belief that it is not consequential as to how a person is infected.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with HCV, based on the belief that most people who become infected, have done so through IV drug use while sharing needles between infected persons. There are a number of other ways in which a person can become infected.
*Tattoos with dirty needles
*Blood Transfusion-primarily before 1990, when testing was initiated in most jurisdictions.
*Sharing razors,toothbrushes or other personal hygiene items.
*Dental work in places where poor sterilization practices are used, and this applies to any setting where blood to blood contact occurs as part of the medical care offered.
*Sharing of straws while snorting Cocaine
Infection occurs when there is blood to blood contact. Transmission during sexual activity is not common and only occurs when there is blood apparent in both parties involved.
Hepatitis C attacks the Liver, primarily. It is referred to as the "Silent Killer" by some, because an infected person can have the infection for decades with no symptoms. Infection can lead to cirrhosis,cancer,and in some cases the only option is to have a liver transplant.
We support the view that screening for HCV should be done as part of a normal blood panel, when people are in for yearly exams, and we urge people to ask their doctor for the test to determine if the antibody is present.
This does not mean that you have HCV, it means that you have been exposed to the virus. It is thought that as many as 15% to 25% of those exposed to the virus never develop the Chronic infection. If one does test positive for the antibody, a second test should be ordered to determine whether you have an active viral infection. Once this is determined, one should begin to talk to a specialist about your treatment options.
There are some very promising treatments available.
This is something that each person needs to pursue with their doctor.
Something that has come to my attention recently, that I find disturbing,is that people that have responded to the message that they should get tested for Hep C, are being told by their GP or PCP that they are healthy and there is no need for them to be tested!
It would seem that some Dr.'s are not keeping up with the current recommendations by the CDC in the US that every person born between 1945-1965 should be tested for HCV.
This is something that those of us who are active in Hep C advocacy have been saying for years, and not restricting it to people who are "Baby Boomers" There are many ways that someone can be infected by the Hep C virus, and some may not be as high risk, but nonetheless there are many people who have Hep C and do not know they are infected.
This makes it more likely that they will develop more serious liver disease in time, and that they may infect others unknowingly.
It is my opinion that HCV testing should be part of a yearly blood panel, in conjunction with a regular check-up. In my belief, this would go a long way towards saving people's lives. and at the very least, improving the quality of life for countless people who will eventually have symptoms, and quite possibly irreversible liver damage.
Please ask your Dr to be tested, and if they say you do not need to be tested, for any reason, demand that you be tested, in a respectful way, of course.
Something that has been on our radar for some time now is the Spa industry, and more specifically nail salons. Many of these establishments do not have the proper sterilization equipment or understanding and awareness about the importance of sterilizing the tools they use.
Blood can easily be transferred from one client to another if there is a nick or cut on both parties, or in many parties ; potentially causing Hep C to be passed on and on. The virus can live up to a week outside the body, so the risk is a very real one. It is our intention to make more and more people aware of this through awareness campaigns with social media and through our affiliated groups around the world.
Please ask the proprietor of the nail salon where you get this work done if they have an autoclave, or what steps they take to safeguard against the spread of infection, and this is not only with Hep C, but with Hep B and other blood borne diseases.